Tuesday, June 05, 2007
Finally saw my first Bela Tarr film, "Werckmeister Harmonies", over the weekend. Jon Abbey, among others, had been touting this fellow (mostly for "Satantango", iirc) and Robert Kirkpatrick recently wrote up this one on his fine blog, A Spiral Cage (link to the right). Thanks, fellows, for the prompts.
We recently capitulated to the inescapable charms of Netflix and this was my first choice. An amazing film, both formally and emotionally, one I can easily imagine watching many times (one of the reasons I prefer owning DVDs rather than renting, having the thing near at hand when the mood strikes). One of its strengths is its openness to numerous interpretations, a number of which I've read in the last couple of days, several of which seem equally persuasive (the sign of a deep work). I like the general notion of an "innocent" (Janos) being buffeted between the forces of co-called science (the harmonic system of the title), so-called politics (the riotous mob following the ravings of the dwarf) and so-called mysticism (represented by the whale).
I have to admit, I could probably watch the movie bereft of any content aspect, simply wallowing in the images and sounds. Tarr's been called "minimalist" which seems as off-base as using the term for Feldman. There's so much to see in virtually every frame. Happily, Tarr has no problem lingering; there are only 39 shots (from what I understand) in the 140 minute film and almost every one deserves contemplation. If I had to single out a couple of favorites, they'd include the night-time scene of the whale-trailer entering town and the incredible tracking shot of Janos and his uncle walking to meet the protest group. Too many to list, though.
Already looking forward to watching it again as well as checking out other Tarr work. ("Satantango" not yet available, I don't think)
Songs and Music from Turkmenistan (World Music Library) Fantastic!